Teen punched during robbery by Berkeley gang members

Police have described the area of Bonar Street and Allston Way as a "high gang area." Image: Google maps
Police have described the area of Bonar Street and Allston Way as a “high gang area.” Image: Google maps

Two men have been charged in the robbery of a 14-year-old boy in West Berkeley earlier this month in what police described as a “high gang area,” according to court papers.

According to police, the 14-year-old boy was near Bonar Street and Allston Way when two men and a juvenile male approached him in a Chevrolet Blazer on March 10.

A passenger in the vehicle, identified as Arturo Avalos of Berkeley, got out of the SUV and approached the boy saying, “Give me your phone or I am going to punch you in your face.”

According to court papers, Avalos then swung at the victim’s face, hitting the boy in the arm as the teen deflected the punch. Afterward, police say Avalos took the victim’s phone.


The juvenile male from the SUV then said, according to court papers: “If you snitch, I’m gonna beat your ass.”

Both males got back into the SUV and left the area.

During the police investigation, all three males from the SUV were identified during a line-up.

Police spoke with the juvenile male from the SUV and say he admitted to having been on Bonar and Allston with the SUV’s alleged driver, Antonio Cruz Jr., according to court documents. He told police he had seen “an individual he had a problem with in middle school.”

According to police, Antonio Cruz admitted to having been in the area the day of the robbery.


Police wrote, in court papers, that all three males from the SUV “have been documented by BPD’s gang expert as being in a criminal street gang,” and described the area where the robbery took place as “a high gang area.”

Cruz and the juvenile from the SUV, who are both Berkeley residents, were arrested March 12, according to police, on suspicion of robbery, participating in a criminal street gang and conspiracy.

Cruz is no longer in custody, according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department. He posted a $70,000 bond sometime after March 14.

No information has been available about whether Avalos has been arrested. But an arrest warrant was issued for him March 14, according to the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Both Avalos and Cruz have been charged by the district attorney’s office with second-degree robbery and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. Both felony charges include special allegations related to prison eligibility because of the serious nature of the alleged offense.


Gang enhancements do not appear to have been charged, however.

Defendant Avalos was convicted in Alameda County in 2010 for possession of a controlled substance, according to the district attorney’s office. No other prior convictions were listed for either man.

No further information is likely to be available about whether prosecution will proceed against the juvenile male because of his status as a minor, said Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, speaking generally.

Cruz is scheduled for a pretrial hearing April 1 at 9:05 a.m. in Department 115 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Related:
Berkeley Police on 3 recent shootings: ‘Responding to these incidents is our top priority’ (03.28.14)
Update: Police respond to shooting in West Berkeley (03.25.14)
Gang members arrested after hurling bottles at police (02.25.14)
Shots fired early Saturday near West Berkeley park (11.02.13)
Berkeley residents tackle safety issues after shootings (03.21.12)
Community meeting called in wake of Berkeley shootings (03.13.12)
Three men shot, wounded early Sunday in West Berkeley (03.05.12)
3 people shot on Bonar Street, no life-threatening injuries (03.02.12)

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